As I sit perched in my apartment watching the sun slip away below the horizon, billowing dark clouds overtake the fading light. Tonight, where I live prepares for the first big round of spring storms. Living in tornado alley comes with knowing how to read a radar with the the skills of a meteorologist, knowing the ominous green color of a wall cloud and spending countless hours of your life in stairwells, bathtubs and basements with strangers.
I do not love storms, but over time I began to participate with the seasoned veteran and venture out to watch a wall cloud spin or see the tornado begin to drop down. Let’s be honest though, I only do this if I know the trajectory of said tornado. Going outside in a storm is not my first instinct.
As a child, teenager and college student, I never ventured out. The fear of tornadoes held me with a death grip. My mom always tells the story of when we moved here. Talking with my brother and I in the car she mentioned the phrase, “tornado alley”. Little three of four-year-old Elizabeth chimed in saying, “well I am glad we don’t live in tornado alley!” My mother then broke the news to me, we had indeed moved to tornado alley.
Storm season gripped me with fear. Another time, our family went to an ice cream festival when a tornado hit nearby. With sirens blaring and the dark green sky spinning ever so slightly, I remember everyone seeming so calm. No one seemed concerned at all. I, however, felt as if I saw the iceberg on the Titanic and tried to warn everyone, and yet they just did not care. To them, we were unsinkable and untouchable.
In college I would make my roommates go to the basement of a building with me or clean out the closet we would need to go in to remain safe if a tornado had the chance of occurring. Struck with fear describes how I interacted with the storms that frequent spring, summer, fall and sometimes winter where I live.
As I sit here many years later a seasoned professional, I remain calm thus far. I watch the changing clouds morph and alter themselves knowing the power lurking within. The peace I feel causes me to pause and reflect. How do I stay calm as I see a storm roll and roar around me?
Just like this evening and where I live, storms spring up in our life, too. Some we see coming. Some seem to hit us out of nowhere, like say an ill timed blizzard in New York City. But just like a girl living in tornado alley, we can face them without letting paralyzing fear overtake us.
As I experience storms in life and right outside my window, I realized tonight that with each storm we gain new skills. God equips us as we walk out trials and through seasons of turmoil, pain, grief, drought and swirling storms. He walks with us through each minor and major process.
I know this seems juvenile, but pause and meditate on that for just a moment. God, the creator of the universe, the God who tells the ocean where to stop, the God who knows the number of hairs on your head, that God walks with you through the storm. He doesn’t decide the storm is too small so He should spend His time elsewhere. He doesn’t decide you should have figured this out by now and leave you in the squall. He walks with you. And with each storm He continues to further equip you.
Because this is not my first storm season, I know what to watch for on the radar. I know what to do and where to go if the sirens pierce the night. I developed those skills by walking through many, many, many storms. God develops our trust, our skills, our foresight, our love with Him as we experience both the good and the turbulent with Him.
Reflect on the ways God used the storms He already brought you through. What did you learn? What skills did God develop in you that you can apply moving forward? What can you and God continue to refine?
Storms while scary can provide a fresh start. The rain pounds down and washes away the dirt and grime of everyday life. It provides the means for new growth. Without the rain we would not know what “after the rain” smells like. We need storms and hard seasons to strengthen us. We need storms to remind ourselves we are nothing without God. We need storms to equip and prepare for whatever comes next.
Whatever you face, known or unknown, know you do not face it alone. With God walking with you no twister, hail, thunderstorm, gale force wind or raging sea stands a chance. The storm may not be fun, easy, exciting, wanted or feel like it will ever end, but God walks with you. No weapon formed against you shall prosper.